Dash has been doing his vision therapy for a while now – a half-hour session twice a week, with “homework” every day. We have had letter charts and arrow charts and number stars taped to the walls, and he has been pointing or reading or dancing or whatever he’s meant to do, morning and evening. Sometimes getting him to do it is just like school homework all over again, but he does it, and we hope it’s helping.
He’ll have another assessment midway through, and I’ll be interested to see if the numbers have changed. One thing about this process that I like is that the results are measurable; we’re not just wondering if his reading has improved, and if so if it was going to do that anyway. Of the barrage of tests he did at the beginning, we were provided with a list showing the range an average 7-year-old’s results would fall into, and then where his results were. Those aspects where his were below that range are the things his therapy focuses on, and when he’s re-tested we should see the difference.
We have at least continued with his daily twenty minutes of reading through the summer, even if other plans to beat summer slide, like daily copying out of a morning message, never got off the ground despite my best intentions and his avowed cooperation. This morning he actually continued past the timer’s beeping so that he could finish all of Green Eggs and Ham. Admittedly, the plot twist was not unexpected, and he’s well able to read all the words; but because he knows it so well he was happy to keep going and – for the first time ever – I heard him read with expression instead of just stumbling over one word at a time. I don’t know if the vision therapy has anything to do with it, but I was pleased.
The optometrists had given us, with Dash’s report, a list of accommodations we could ask for at school, such as sitting closer to the front, not being asked to copy from the board (changing focus from far to near is a problem point), getting some extra time for reading or writing assignments, that sort of thing. I was called in for a meeting this week to discuss these, and I was very pleased with the way things went.
I met with his teacher for next year, the principal, the guidance counsellor, the head of special ed, the school psychologist (didn’t even know we had one) and one other person, and it was mostly just a great opportunity to tell these people – most of whom had not dealt with Dash before, though I bet they’d recognize his big grin – who my son is, what a great kid he is, how much he loves school, and what’s going on with his vison right now. They were all open to learning more about how they could help, and we had a great discussion. I left feeling really positive about the school and its staff, which is a lovely way to start the year off.
In a most amazing coincidence, Dash’s best friend, daughter of my best friend (known in these parts as Helen’s Mom), has some of the same vision problems. There are just two days in age between her and Dash, and though we don’t see her so often any more, we spent much of the toddler years together at playgroups and playdates and library storytimes and the like. Helen (not her real name) is also a bright kid struggling more than you might expect with reading, though she’s reading at or slightly above grade level. Our story was ringing so many bells with her mom that she got Helen tested too, and vision therapy is probably in their future.
Which makes us wonder whether there was something in the water at all those playdates. Or maybe it was the extended nursing. Dun dun dunnnnn. (THAT WAS A JOKE. I WAS JOKING. I SWEAR I WAS JOKING.)